WHO’s COVID-19 SOLIDARITY Trial Lands in Canada & Led by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Apr 10, 2020 | Canada, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of British Columbia, World Health Organization

WHO’s COVID-19 SOLIDARITY Trial Lands in Canada & Led by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) SOLIDARITY Trial has commenced in Canada as up to 20 participating hospitals gear up for first patient first visit. The study, supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), reflects an unprecedented level of global collaboration as this major trial assesses the safety and effectiveness of different drugs, and drug combinations in people who are hospitalized with COVID-19. The initiative is known in Canada as Canadian Treatments for COVID-19 or CATCO.


TrialSite News introduced the SOLIDARITY Trial to huge interest worldwide. The online media platform did suggest WHO share more details about participating research sites.


Again the Canadian regional face of SOLIDARITY, up to 20 hospitals may participate. The trial will start by investigating lopinavir-ritonavir, a combination of antiviral agents also used in treatment of HIV as compared to a combination of antiviral agents—many of which are also used in the treatment of HIV, compared with optimized supportive care. The study includes other medications, such as antiviral remdesivir and the controversial hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine touted as a “game changer” from U.S. President Donald Trump despite the fact that the anti-malarial drug isn’t proven for the novel coronavirus.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre:  Lead Canadian Site for SOLIDARITY Trial

Sunnybrook Hospital was the first site in Canada to commence enrolling patients. They will be followed by the University of British Columbia (UBC). Data collected from participating hospitals will be submitted to a central repository managed by the WHO. Ultimately, the SOLIDARITY trial will enroll thousands of patients from dozens of countries.

Dr. Rob Fowler, critical care physician and chief, Tory Trauma Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto—the CATCO trial sponsor and lead coordinating hospital for Canada—reports, “Sunnybrook was the first hospital in Canada to start enrolling patients this week, and we expect our colleagues in B.C. will be able to enroll patients starting in the next week or so.”

University of British Columbia

Of the up to two dozen sites involved, University of British Columbia plans full-throttle engagement. As Dr. Srinivas Murthy touts, “Trials like this are important because when faced with a new disease like COVID-19, its important that clinicians and patients do not turn to unproven therapies.” Dr. Murthy is a clinical associate professor in UBC’s department of pediatrics and an infectious disease and critical care physician at BC Children’s Hospital. He continued, “These types of trials ensure that patients are assigned to the most promising treatments, so that evidence regarding the safest, most effective therapies is generated in the shortest possible time.”

Canadian COVID-19 Clinical Trial Support

The CATCO trial is being conducted with the support of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and through the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group and the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada.

Created in 1980 to improve care of critically ill patients through investigator-initiated research, as well as offer a national forum for continuing education about research methods, the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group started as an open-invitation conference funded by the Medical Research Council of Canada in Emerald Lake in 1989 attended by about 25 people. They are currently based in Montreal and led by Nicolay Ferrari, PhD


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